Grelle on Lake Travis

Grelle on Lake Travis

Note: Here’s an article from my friend and fellow blogger Katie Raver.

For the first hour I visited Grelle Recreation Area, I was less than enchanted.

It had been a rainy summer near Spicewood, Texas. Lake Travis was brimming with water. But the park itself was unkempt, void of all amenities save a pit toilet. An RV’s generator in the throes of death coughed and wheezed. Every three minutes, a mother at the next campsite shrieked another command of warning at her child, whose name was apparently Dustin. And an entire fraternity house had apparently decided that blasting Robert Early Keen, Jr. (The Road Goes on Forever) from one of their truck radios was great background to the serenity of fishing in the Texas Hill Country.

But I was there to hike the trails. At the time, I hadn’t met a single person who had hiked them and could report back about them. I wanted to know more.

The first quarter-mile of the trail was disturbing: worn, with beer cans—some recent, some quite vintage—glinting in the sunlight, and the carcasses of careless fire pits dotting the trail.

But I was curious if this path had anything else to it—some hidden treasure or secret I could learn. The trail got steeper and more narrow. The beer cans and fire pits disappeared. I had to cross a wet creek bed. The temperature got cooler and the tree canopy thicker.

The landscape started to change.

I hiked through a small grotto covered in a carpet of lichen the shape of tiny Christmas trees. Water dripped, drop by drop, from the granite overhang into the pool below. A green lizard sunned itself. An adolescent hawk came to drink.

Further up the trail, a ridge gave a stunning vantage point of the entire peninsula. The oaks were thick and healthy. Small pieces of geodes of all different colors and shapes twinkled on the trail, glinting in the dappled sunlight. At trail’s end, I spotted a heron nesting. It watched me. I watched it. We shared a quiet moment.

Travel and new experiences do more than simply get us out of our own environment: they help us have experiences that can teach us new lessons and let us know what’s important in life. Answering the impulse to travel, to get outside, and to experience something new tells us again that we are capable of experiencing even more than paying bills, mowing the lawn, driving in traffic.

That day at Grelle, I was reminded that just beyond the beaten path, beauty blossoms.

Katie Raver